Killer Tornado Outbreak Hit Region 20 Years Ago
St. Peter, MN (KROC-AM News) - Today marks the 20th anniversary of the killer tornado cluster that devastated a number of communities across southern Minnesota. A mass of especially warm and muggy air resulted in the formation of a thunderstorm supercell in southwestern Minnesota that brought produced 14 tornadoes, making the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded in Minnesota.
The first twister was reported just before 3:30 in the afternoon in South Dakota and crossed into southwestern Minnesota, while and the other 13 tornadoes formed over 3 and half hours on a path that traveled across the entire width of the state. The last twister from the storm was spotted in Wabasha County and did not cause any damage.
In between the first and last tornadoes, twisters rated as F4 storms smashed into the tiny towns of Comfrey and Lake Hanska before terrorizing residents in St. Peter. The damage tally in the south-central Minnesota City included nearly 2000 damaged homes, and about 200 of those houses were completely destroyed. The campus of Gustavus Adolphus College took a direct hit and sustained about $50 million in damage.
Two people lost their lives during the tornado outbreak. A 6-year-old boy in St. Peter and an 85-year-old man living near Lake Hanska were killed.
(The National Weather Service is the source of the information and photos in this post)